After making solid investments to their defensive line in recent years, the Detroit Lions decided that defensive end Willie Young was not going to be a part of the team’s future. Today, the former Lions defensive end signed with the division rival Chicago Bears rather than taking a hometown discount in Detroit. Young’s deal was for three years and $9 million along with $3.5 million guaranteed. Despite losing a good pass rusher today, the Lions and their fanbase should not panic about letting Young go.
After free agent defensive end Jason Jones was injured for most of the 2013 season, Young stepped in and joined a defensive line that already featured three first-round picks in Ezekiel Ansah, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Young had a good season last year, recording three sacks and making 47 tackles in 15 starts. Despite these good numbers, there are plenty of other good options available for the Lions.
By choosing not to re-sign Young for more than what he was actually worth, Detroit benefited in the long run. With Jones expected to be 100 percent healthy this season and second-year player Devin Taylor getting better, Young was not valuable enough to keep. While pass rushers are a valued commodity in today’s NFL, the Lions have a pass rusher on their squad in Taylor who will be better than Young was.
For Taylor, he nearly produced more sacks (2.5) in only two starts than Young did (3.0) in 15 last year. With Taylor’s size (6-foot-7) and athleticism, he provides a unique skill-set to a very talented front four that when on its “A” game is a top-five unit. Although Jones will likely start next season if healthy, Taylor will eventually be unleashed next year, and he will become the next talented pass rusher in Detroit, making people all but forget about Young and what he did when he was a Lion.